Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty: Background and Current Developments [Updated September 18, 2008]   [open pdf - 270KB]

This is an updated report from the Congressional Research Service on the comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty (CTBT), its background, and current issues. "A comprehensive nuclear-test-ban treaty (CTBT) is the oldest item on the nuclear arms control agenda. Three treaties currently bar all but underground tests with a maximum force equal to 150,000 tons of TNT. […] The U.N. General Assembly adopted the CTBT in 1996. As of September 18, 2008, 179 states had signed it; 144, including Russia, had ratified; and of the 44 that must ratify the treaty for it to enter into force, 41 had signed and 35 had ratified. Five conferences have been held to facilitate entry into force, most recently in 2007. In 1997, President Clinton sent the CTBT to the Senate. In October 1999, the Senate rejected it, 48 for, 51 against, 1 present. It is on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee's calendar. It would require a two-thirds Senate vote to send the treaty back to the President for disposal or to give advice and consent for ratification. The Bush Administration opposes the CTBT, adheres to the test moratorium, has not ruled out resumed testing, and has no plans to test. It has reduced the time needed to conduct a nuclear test. Critics raised concerns about the implications of these policies for testing and new weapons. At present, Congress addresses nuclear weapon issues in the annual National Defense Authorization Act and the Energy and Water Development Appropriations Act. Congress considers the Stockpile Stewardship Program (listed as Weapons Activities), which seeks to maintain nuclear weapons without testing. […] Congress also considers a U.S. contribution to a global system to monitor possible nuclear tests."

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CRS Report for Congress, RL33548
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